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In 2017, while working for the United Nations in West Africa, five refugees turned up at Rhiana’s office looking for help. They had been knocking on doors of different organisations for over five years trying to get help with many pressing issues, including enrolling a child – Emmanuella – into school. But little to nothing had been done to help their situation. After trying – to no avail – to mobilise various agencies for them, Rhiana decided to turn to her network to get these determined and resilient refugees the help they needed and deserved. By finding the right person, three different solutions were discovered within one weekend and Emmanuella was enrolled in school. All it took was one person who knew which specific organisation could help. The refugees knew what assistance would be most useful, and the local organisations knew the right avenues to take. What remained was matching the need with the resource. So Rhiana set off in developing a technology to meet these needs.


The Spark

Inspired by this turn of events, Rhiana started to develop a tool which would help people in vulnerable situations find the help they require through a technology that can automatically direct them to the right place. In so doing, this tool would, on one hand, help individuals navigate the overwhelming amount of information out there. On the other hand, it would assist often understaffed and underfunded institutions with their staggering workload, thus allowing employees to spend more quality time with the people in need.

The Pandemic

Upon the emergence of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, and the corresponding drastic rise of violence against women, her priorities shifted. Together with a handful of friends, they adapted the technology to domestic violence and “Sophia” – the world’s first chatbot assisting survivors of domestic violence gather potential evidence and seek help – was born. With  the help of dozens of committed volunteers from all over the world, they quickly moved to get “Sophia” up and running.